Such as was the case last winter, we’re going to see a lot of ‘the Blue Jays are in the mix for _____’ reports in the coming months.
Here’s the newest one from Wednesday, in which Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Toronto is among the teams, along with the American League East rivals, the Yankees and Red Sox, who are in on Justin Verlander. Sherman also notes that the Blue Jays and Red Sox made aggressive offers to Noah Syndergaard, who wound up taking a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels…
Verlander will pitch at 39 next season. But the last time he was healthy, 2019, he won his second AL Cy Young Award. He likely doesn’t have to throw another pitch to be a Hall of Famer. Word is that the teams that were in on Syndergaard also have interest in Verlander. That includes three AL East clubs — the Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox. Toronto and Boston made aggressive offers for Syndergaard. It is not publicly known if the Yanks did.
The Verlander thing is no surprise, as the Blue Jays were among the teams to attend the 38-year-old’s throwing session in Florida earlier this month. Also, another interesting thing, Ken Rosenthal noted that Verlander prefers to play for a team that trains in Florida, and the Blue Jays, of course, have a state-of-the-art facility in Dunedin.
— Ben Turner (@benturn22) November 17, 2021
Verlander has pitched only six innings over the past two seasons. He won his second Cy Young Award in 2019 with arguably his best performance of his career, and then started for the Houston Astros on opening day in 2020, got injured, and wound up missing all of 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
It’s difficult to say how good Verlander will be upon his return, but there’s a benefit to taking a gamble on him. While younger starters on the free-agent market will command three- and four-year deals, such as Eduardo Rodriguez did earlier this week, Verlander’s age and injury likely means that he’ll come in on a shorter-term deal.
This is ideal for a team like the Blue Jays who are going to have to make a bunch of large financial commitments to their core players soon. The team just inked Jose Berrios to a seven-year deal (which, to be honest, it’s pretty team-friendly) and big deals for names like Vladdy Jr., Bo Bichette, and Teoscar Hernandez are right around the corner.
The same logic applies to Syndergaard, who has only pitched two innings since 2019 after undergoing Tommy John. There’s obviously risk in signing Syndergaard after his surgery, but there’s no denying the benefit of only having to make a one-year commitment given how pricey mid-level starting pitchers are on the open market.
To be honest, I find it a little surprising that Syndergaard didn’t decide to come to Toronto if the Blue Jays did, in fact, make an offer as good as the Angels did. Given what Robbie Ray just accomplished working with Pete Walker, you’d think this would be the ideal situation for Syndergaard.